was valid. Rather, the government specifically tailored the charges in the indictment to encompass the period prior to June 11 in an effort to eliminate any possible jury confusion regarding the certificate's legal significance. During trial, the government made no arguments regarding the validity of the June 11 Certificate because the certificate was irrelevant to the instant prosecution. See United States Trial Mem. of 4/5/95, at 4.
Craig's second argument also must be rejected. Even if it is true that the June 11 Certificate enjoys a presumption of regularity and proper jurisdiction, that presumption is not irrebuttable. The court may consider the facts in the record as well as the relevant statute to determine whether the June 11 Certificate in this case is valid. As discussed more fully below, the law as applied to the facts of this case compels the conclusion that Judge Gorman lacked jurisdiction to issue a certificate of relief to Craig. See In Re: Application of Leona M. Helmsley, 152 Misc. 2d 215, 575 N.Y.S.2d 1009, 1012 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1991). In Helmsley, the state Supreme Court declined to issue defendant a certificate of relief because "the statutory scheme dictates that those offenders who are convicted and receive felony time must make their application to the State Parole Board, and this is so whether the conviction arose in this jurisdiction or any other jurisdiction." Id. The state Supreme Court thus recognized that under Section 703 it lacked jurisdiction to issue a certificate of relief from civil disabilities.
Craig finally argues that Section 702 of the state Correction Law applies because 61 of the 62 state sentences he received were for one year of imprisonment, and only one sentence involved his commitment to state prison. This argument lacks merit. There is absolutely no dispute that Craig was convicted of a felony and a received a sentence to a state correctional facility. That Craig also received lesser sentences does not negate this basic fact. Because commitment to a state prison triggers Section 703 of the Correction Law, I must apply its requirements to Craig's case.
From a policy standpoint, the statutory scheme's distinction between local and state prison sentences is sensible. As stated by the court in Helmsley, "where the offender is sentenced to a revocable sentence or to a short definite term, the court is best able to monitor through the probation department or a like agency, the offender's progress toward rehabilitation and the necessity for the issuance of a certificate of relief, . . . [but] where the offender is sentenced to felony time, the State Parol Board is better equipped to monitor the offender's progress and needs." Helmsley, 575 N.Y.S.2d at 1012. I cannot ignore the language of Section 703 or the manner in which Sections 702 and 703 work together merely because Craig received sentences of different lengths.
Consequently, the clear language of the New York Correction Law compels the conclusion that Judge Gorman lacked authority to issue a certificate of relief from disabilities to Craig. The June 11 Certificate is invalid and without effect. I reach this conclusion independently of the opinion stated by Mr. Murray, but I note that my decision fully is supported by his affidavit. Because Craig was convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment in a state prison, only the state Board of Parole has authority to issue him a certificate of relief from civil disabilities restoring his right to possess and own firearms. N.Y. Correct. Law § 703(1). There is no dispute that Craig has not received such a certificate from the state parole board. Thus, I cannot return the seized firearms to Craig because to do so would put him in violation of law. 18 U.S.C. § 924(d)(1).
In a letter to the court dated June 21, 1995, counsel for Craig contends that even if the June 11 Certificate was issued without actual authority, it still has legal effect and restored Craig's right to possess firearms. However, this is not the holding of the case defendant cites for support, United States v. Swanson, 753 F. Supp. 338 (N.D. Ala. 1990), aff'd, 947 F.2d 914 (11th Cir. 1991). In Swanson, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit merely applied Alabama state law to determine whether defendant's certificate of relief restored his right to possess firearms. Swanson, 947 F.2d at 918. I, too, have applied state law -- that of New York -- to determine whether Craig's certificate of relief restored his right to possess firearms. The problem in Swanson, however, was that the state courts' interpretation of Alabama law regarding restoration of civil rights changed during the course of the litigation, and the 11th Circuit grappled with the effect of that change. Id. at 917-18. I do not face a similar task here because New York courts consistently interpreted and applied New York Correction Law sections 702 and 703. For example, in Helmsley, the defendant was convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison, so the court held that Section 703 applied to any request for relief from civil disabilities. Helmsley, 575 N.Y.S.2d at 1012. In another case, the defendant received a revocable sentence, so Section 702 applied to his request for relief from civil disabilities. Da Grossa v. Goodman, 72 Misc. 2d 806, 339 N.Y.S.2d 502, 504 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1972); accord Helmsley, 575 N.Y.S.2d at 1012.
Finally, during oral argument, counsel for Craig suggested that I release the seized weapons to Donna Craig, wife of Collin Craig. In support of this alternative, counsel relied on the language of Section 924(d)(1), which states that seized firearms shall be returned "to the owner or possessor or to a person delegated by the owner or possessor." 18 U.S.C. § 924(d)(1). This argument fails because of a fundamental principal of agency law, that is, a principal may not delegate to his agent or nominee authority which he himself does not possess. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 20 (1958). In other words, an "individual may not create an agent who has greater power than the individual himself possesses." Miner v. New York State Dep't of Correctional Servs., 125 Misc. 2d 594, 479 N.Y.S.2d 703, 704 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1984)), aff'd, 70 N.Y.2d 909, 524 N.Y.S.2d 390, 519 N.E.2d 301 (1987). Thus, because Craig lacks authority to legally possess firearms, he cannot delegate such authority to any other person.
Craig cannot possess the seized firearms without being in violation of law because the appropriate state agency has not restored this right. Craig's motion for return of the weapons is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: August 8, 1995
Syracuse, New York
ROSEMARY S. POOLER
United States District Judge